Richmond Astronomical Society

August 2014 Meeting Minutes

Nov 11th, 2014 | By | Category: Meetings

Richmond Astronomical Society

779th Consecutive Meeting

August 12, 2014


Greetings – approximately 35 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room.


Announcements / Share Table

  • Jim Blowers gave away some equipment to display laptop screen on a TV.
  • John Raymond gave away old Sky&Telescope and Astronomy magazines
  • John Barnette brought in an old 6-inch solar filter (mylar)
  • Jim Browder and John explained plans for possible usage of other field openings at Belmead. It also includes storage facilities and RAS equipment to be left on site. Much more to discuss over the next year in the board meetings.
  • RAS membership dues are due. Annual membership is $30. Observatory personnel fees are an additional $10. Magazine subscriptions are $32.95 for Sky&Telescope, and $34 for Astronomy.


Library Report: Virginia Eckert’s assortment of books for this meeting:

  • Friendly Stars (1909)
  • Story of the Comet (1909)
  • Face of the Moon (1949)
  • Secret Melody (1995) by a UVa professor
  • Mars Mystery Unfolds
  • Spaceshots (picture) 1979


Events and Individual Observing: RAS members
Welcome Visitors:

  • Claire Racette
  • Ava Daneva
  • Mark Weeden
  • Gerard Weeden
  • Lozina Daneva

Upcoming Events / Recent Events: Science Museum, Powhatan State Park

  • RAS Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, September 9, 7:30 PM: The next meeting of the Richmond Astronomical Society will be on Tuesday, September 9, 7:30 PM at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please join us for the meeting to hear about some recent news items and, if you can, for dinner atArby’s across the street from the Museum about 6:00 PM.
    For those that cannot attend in person, we will stream video of the meeting at http:/
  • Belmead skywatches: To be announced
  • Science Museum of Virginia, August 15, 8:00 PM: RAS will have its regular monthly skywatch at the Science Museum starting
    at 8:00 PM after the Museum’s planetarium show, “Science After Dark: Space Movie Monsters,” which starts at 6:30 PM. The
    Museum will also be open from 5:00 to 9:00 PM for evening live science activities including heart dissections and creating slime.
    There will also be a special presentation of “Bride of Frankenstein” (or Godzilla) in The Dome at 8:30 pm. More information is on the
    Museum’s web site at: Please join us and bring a telescope for the skywatch if you can.
  • RAS Board of Directors Meeting, August 18, 7:00 PM: The Board of Directors will meet at Extra Billy’s Restaurant on West Broad Street. Reservations will be made for 6:00 PM for those that wish to eat. Please join us if you can.
  • Almost Heaven Star Party, Aug 22-26: NOVAC’s annual star party at a very dark sky location in West Virginia is coming up in late August. More information here:  Spruce Knob
  • Powhatan State Park, September 13, 7:00 PM: Powhatan State Park will be hosting a public skywatch on September 20 in the equestrian parking area. RAS will be supplying astronomers. Please contact John Raymond at raymond74l9© if you can help with this event. Rain date is September 20.
  • VAAS 2014, September 27 (tentative): The Norfolk Astronomical Society will be hosting this year’s meeting of the Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies. More information when available at:
  • ECVAR 2014, September 20-27, Galax, VA: The East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous will be held at the Cool Breeze Campground in Galax, VA, focused on video astronomy. Information on the star party is at:  Also,
  • NOVAC Annual Star Gaze, September 27, C. M. Crockett Park: The 31st annual NOVAC Star Gaze will be held on Saturday, September27 from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM at Crockett Park in Fauquier County. Expected to be big, with 70-90 telescopes school buses of people.
  • Camp Phoenix Skywatch, September 27, 6:00 PM: The Camp Phoenix project for adult cancer survivors will be held at Camp Hanover and RAS has been asked to provide a skywatch for the attendees. Please contact Jim Browder at
    president© if you can help with this event. The event should only require 1-2 astronomers.
  • Staunton River Star Party, October 20-26, Staunton River State Park: This year’s Fall version of the Staunton River Star Party will be held from October 20-26. The Richmond Astronomical Society will be hosting an imaging workshop at the star party on October 23 and 24th. More information at Note that you must register in advance.
  • Scotchtown Skywatch, August 15 in Ashland – expecting many cub scouts


Presentation: Recent Discoveries and Accomplishments in Space Research,” Chris McCann

Chris decided to review some of the major discoveries and accomplishments that had occurred over the past year. He also had several minor things that many people had not heard. He started off with 10 Cassini photos of the Saturn system, showing fire storms, geysers, a possible new moon, wind blown dunes, and Mimas looking like the death star in Star Wars. He moved onto the latest discovery about exoplanets that may be able to withstand life as we know it.

Next was Pluto and the planning NASA is doing for its rendezvous with Horizon. Pluto has a new moon (now 5 moons) named Chariklo. We briefly saw photos of the recent supermoon in different cities. You really couldn’t tell it was bigger than normal, but the beach and Wallops Island view was pretty.

A few of the miscellaneous discoveries involved scientists finding that meteors emit low frequency signals, and there is a big 3-year effort to digitally map the heavens. The last photos taken at Keck Observatory in Hawaii before it was hit by a hurricane, were of hurricane-type storms on Uranus.

Next topic was Mars and Curiosity’s accomplishments. Also, there were photos of a sun eclipse by Phobos.

We recognized that Opportunity rover has now driven farther on another planet than any other vehicle.

MAVEN (US) and MOM (India) satellites will go into orbit around Mars in September. On October 19, the Sliding Spring Comet will pass closely by Mars. What a photo opportunity for the orbiters and rovers!

The Rosetta orbiter is completing a 10-year mission to intercept the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. After determining a good landing place, a lander will be released from Rosetta, to ride the comet on its trek to the Sun.

SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) is a 747 that was restructured to carry a telescope to the upper layers of the atmosphere where there will be no viewing obstructions, but unfortunately will be ‘mothballed’ in November, 2014, due to budget cutbacks.

The last section was a group of 6 beautiful photos taken by Hubble during the past year.

Leave Comment